Two in five million

So, here's the explanation for my recent absence. Steve and I were two of the five million people in the UK who reported having Covid19 last week. And that's just the five million who reported it, not those didn't. It's alarming isn't it? And yet, this is indeed our new normal where businesses are closing temporarily or paring down their services to accommodate the prevalence of the virus. Tresco, like the rest of Great Britain, is awash with the illness. Steve and I are still at home waiting to show a negative test result or at least feel well enough to return to work. What about you? They say that one in 14 of us has the virus currently so we all know someone who has it. If it's you then I'd say stay home until you're well, keep warm, take paracetamol to control your temperature and pain, drink lots of fluids and suck on ice chips to soothe an inflamed throat.

Today's post is from last month, Mother's Day to be precise, when we went to the beachfront Ruin Cafe at Old Grimsby for lunch. Our table view was pretty idyllic and being indoors meant we were out of the driving Easterly wind too. I had flowers and gifts from my children, including a gift card for TK Maxx, but more of that later. I dressed a la 70's style for my lunch date.

It's been a while since I've worn this flower power jacket by Anja Rock. I remember I bought it when I was in Manchester four years ago on my modelling stint with JD Williams - read all about that here. TK Maxx in the centre of Manchester was a wonderful haven full of all sorts of fashion delights and bargains. See the first time I showcased the jacket here - it was a fabulously bright and breezy post that's worth another look if you missed it.

Steve and I had taken a stroll home through the woods after our leisurely lunch when we hit this golden pool of sunlight. Too good an opportunity to miss, eh?

The heart patterned flares were from Asos, the sweater is totally ancient, and the stone coloured boots of the moment are also from Asos. The observant amongst you may have seen that my pre and post-lunch sunglasses are different, but both are from Quay Australia.

My 70's jewellery collection is all pre-loved charity shop finds. 

My print clutch bag is from Zara and was actually part of the gift packaging of a new blouse, a birthday present from my dear friend Bo in January. See here for that

My boots of the moment are these chunky ecru dreams from Asos. The beautiful Chelsea boots can be found here

So, in between Mother's Day and Covid19, I've been to the mainland again for another health appointment, this time for some pre-cancerous cell removal on my face. The upside was that I went off clutching the lovely gift card and oh my goodness, what a super time I had! Not only did I shop there, but I snapped up some fab charity shop purchases too. 

These beaded sandals were from TK Maxx and the almost matching necklace was a charity shop find, hurrah!

Gradually I'll showcase these and give you the lowdown on where and how much etc, but in the meantime you'll just have to feast your eyes on the pretty colours and textures of my new springtime wardrobe. The fact that I've ousted 32 boxes of clothes and shoes out of the house means that this has been a guilt-free splurge - whoohoooo!

Wishing you a super week ahead!

Anna x


My pretty new Zara blouse

Hello again! How was your weekend? Mine seemed to go past in a bit of a blur of cooking, cleaning and yes, dejunking. The boxes are mounting up as I clear out cupboard after cupboard, moving out anything that's not useful, beautiful or loved by us. Even poor Steve was involved as I attacked his guilty area of workwear calling on him to help cull his large, but very tired, collection of checked shirts of which there seemed to be many. We're still in the midst of the job, barely half way through the entire house, but as they say, out of chaos comes order!

So, this is my new blouse, a birthday present from my friend Bo who lives in Portugal. It's from Zara, but I can't find it online here. The fabric is lightweight and will be wonderful to wear in the summer (I'm imagining it with white jeans and sandals), but I was so impatient to try it on then decided to winterise it with my pre-loved Ralph Lauren fairisle vest.

I teamed up the blouse with my ochre Kate trousers from J D Williams - see them here on sale now. I love the fit of these slim trousers mainly because of the stretch which makes them super comfy. This is the first time I've worn them despite having them for years - yes, I really mean years. It's only due to the big clear out that I rediscovered them, still with tags on, and decided to try them on. How fab is that to find a great new pair of trousers hidden away? And doubly fab when they match my new blouse perfectly!

My pre-loved perspex rings pick out some of the colours in today's outfit adding to the pattern play too. Dark green pearls and Quay Austalia sunglasses complete the accessories.

Russet platform boots give a bit more leg-lengthening height to the look which is never a bad thing. These are very old indeed and were from Office.

And just to add a bit more pattern to the mix, I wore my Joe Brown's woolen 3/4 length jacket. This one is out of stock now, but I did find another cute jacket - see here.  The lining is a wonderful bit of pattern play too!

It seems that here in the UK we'll all be hunkering down for the rest of the week as we have two gales lining up to give us a bit of a battering. I'd planned to get some outdoor photos taken on the beach at the weekend, but I'll maybe have to come up a plan B just in case. Do take care, wherever you are and thanks for dropping by!

                                                                            Anna x


Autumn styling tricks

Hello lovely peeps, how's things with you? You may recall me bemoaning the end of summer in a recent post and the fact that autumn represents a struggle for me style-wise. Well today I've taken the simple approach by following the fashion advice of Red magazine. The feature captured my attention mainly as I could see that I already had similar items languishing in my wardrobe.

There's nothing better than finding all of the necessary pieces in ones closet to make up a brand new outfit. My pale peach utility wear jumpsuit is so comfortable and now it seems I can extend the life of it for another couple of months. I bought mine in Topshop in the summer sale.

I'm a big fan of belts of all widths meaning that I already had this very similar one. I've had it for yonks and have no idea where I bought it. It's a lovely piece made of soft, thick leather which is why I've held onto it. On trend or not, I keep hold of quality items, not just because of the inevitability of the fashion coming around again, but because they're an absolute asset.

The snakeskin biker jacket was gifted to me by JD Williams earlier this year. See it online here. It's a lovely soft fabric, an artificial suede that wears well and hangs nicely. The rose gold necklace is pre-loved, the rose gold edged sunglasses are by Quay Australia.

My snakeskin print ankle boots were from New Look. They have a new version for this season here. This shape of Chelsea boot seems to fit my foot shape perfectly and are all-day comfortable for me - just enough heel, but not too high.

Another quality leather item is my natural leather Radley bag. If you hurry you can catch the Radley half price sale online here. Mine was an snip from a charity shop which won't surprise you. It pays to have an eagle eye, even if you're not that into second hand shopping. The flower enamel ring was another charity shop find and the ethnic ring was from a market in Cape Town (happy days!).

So, what have I learnt from Red's fashion styling tricks? It seems that by simply adding a jacket and pair of boots to summer clothes, well hey presto, that amounts to autumn dressing! I'm going to be applying this to lots of my summer clothes, that's the ones that haven't already been packed away at least. Coming up later this week, I'll be showing you how one of my favourite summer dresses looks when it gets this autumn treatment.

Did you like today's feature? If so, please let me know.

Anna x


My 4th year of blogging - what a busy year that was!

My blogging year runs from May to May and this time last year I was oblivious to what an exciting time I was about to experience. Island life couldn't prepare me for the whirlwind of three fashion campaigns for JD Williams and a beauty campaign for Look Fabulous Forever and all that those would entail. This is the visual whistle stop tour  overindulgent reprise of the year - I do hope you enjoy it half as much as I have! (You may want to make a cuppa and draw up a chair, this could take some time. Be warned, it's MEGA, the biggest post of my entire blogging career!)

In a couple of months I would leave the peace and serenity of the islands and step into the world of advertising to learn about the life of a fashion model, and all at the grand old age of 60!

This shot is from a feature I ran in May last year called "Fix her crown" - see it here if you missed it. 

My year on Tresco wouldn't be complete without a swimming shot of my friend Kate who comes at least twice or three times a year. These chat swims are great therapy for both of us as we exchange news and hatch plans together.

On the eve of the JD Williams casting session in London, here I am on the way to spend the night with another friend, Ann who acted as styling adviser, guide and confidante in those early days when the project was still at the fledgling stage and I was having to keep it quiet.

And this is post-casting and golly how relaxed I remember feeling once it was all over. (I look perfectly at home sitting on the Iron Throne too, don't I?) The actual casting was pretty much an adrenalin-charged blur of me talking nineteen to the dozen and then dancing (not unprompted I hasten to add) - oooo how I cringe when I recall that bit - but I was on a hopeful high as Ann and I sat having a drink before going to the cinema that evening. Dare I think that I would be good enough to make the cut? 

Home again and I'm wearing some of my spoils from that London trip.

July came along with the news that yes I was in! Time for me to swap boats for planes as I flew to Manchester for the filming of the new "I AM" campaign, to be released in September. As I arrived in the city, so did the raging heatwave that transformed our summer and memories thereof. Manchester in 30 degrees took a bit of getting used to without a sea breeze to help cool me down. 

The air con had broken down in the hotel room which served as hair and make-up department. A temporary system was hastily set up and we none of us melted. I do remember that between walking from the hotel to the film location I wasn't allowed to wear the heavy yellow sweater for fear that I might faint in the heat. I was given a runner to carry said sweater over his arm which was quite a novelty for me. I had to rein in my natural impulse to insist that I was able to carry my own sweater. The lad (young enough to be my son) surely had more important things to do?

My contribution - I AM Rocking 60!

I had to capture this for posterity. Evidence that we were indeed models and not just dreaming!

Little did we know that we were to be named as the five stars of the I AM campaign. What we did know however, was that we all loved larking about in front of the camera and that as a group we gelled, we had fun together and were very at ease with each other. What a great move by JD Williams to choose ordinary women to spearhead this new advertising campaign as it would resonate with ordinary women too. We were all thrilled to be part of this great marketing idea.

I'll be honest with you, I could hardly recognise myself in these shots. Make-up for TV is much heavier than your everyday make-up, well it has to be to counter the bright lights, but the dramatic look was still a bit of a surprise to me. The slash of red lipstick and those heavily made up eyes looked like someone else, someone doing glamour big time!

The editing suite where the experts wave a magic wand over the proceedings.

The photo shoots and filming over these few days were spent in haze of hairspray and laughter with these fabulous new found friends. I was a bundle of nerves most of the time resulting in me spouting even more gibberish than usual. As a newbie to this whole new world it was pretty exciting I have to say. (A note to my 10 year old self - have patience my dear, you will indeed get the chance to be a model before your time is out. That 10 year old girl had longed to take part in a mother and daughter fashion show in our local town hall sponsored by Smith's, the fashion shop at the top of the hill on the high street. Oh how I yearned to be up on that catwalk!)

Home again and time for a picnic with Steve on Samson island when I got the chance to share all of the crazy anecdotes from my trip away. These two lives could not be any more different. Thank goodness Steve always grounds me, but he also encouraged this new venture in my 60th year when "Why not?" had become my stock answer to the many things that came my way.

Our monthly Style Not Age challenges continued with the ladies of the group all in on my secret filming which was yet to be released.

Another trip to London, this time to join fellow fashion blogger Laurie of Vanity and Me where we were being used in the beauty campaign for Look Fabulous Forever. Laurie is a professional blogger and the list of her brand collaborations is as long as my arm. Actually, maybe longer.

The brand was launching a new face cream for day and night. We were gifted samples of these and I still use the brand now. 

Back on the home front and summer at the gallery means one exhibition every 10 days which is a pretty swift turnaround. The opening night parties are the highlight for all of the hard working artists and a real pleasure for us to showcase their work. Oh, and also a grand excuse for even more dressing up! Here I am with Flynn O'Reilly and Ramie Leahy, both of whom will be having shows with us again this summer.

By September I was back in Manchester filming the JD Williams Christmas advert. Pinch me, I kept thinking, is this really happening? Sworn to silence yet again, I bubbled with inner excitement at the prospect of me in my party outfit being seen on TV at Christmas.

We filmed in Blackpool at this indoor location as well as in the sand dunes on the beach. I find the whole behind-the-scenes life fascinating and can understand the appeal in making these kind of adverts. Bringing all of the creative threads together along with the the drive to get the perfect shot takes such a lot of expertise. I have a great respect for this art form. 

Home again. The view from my garden is an ever changing picture. As always, I count my blessings.

"Life's a ball" was my chosen theme for the September Style Not Age challenge. Very fitting when you consider the time I was having.

My best friend Bo lives in Portugal, but every so often she comes to the islands with her husband for a flying visit. On one of the days we took them off in our boat to Nornour, one of the uninhabited Eastern Isles for a picnic. This is what you really mean by getting away from it all. Happy days with friends - what more can you ask?

The wedding of Kate and Andy Lawson was a long awaited and a very special island occasion. See my blog post about the day here

January brought another call from JD Williams to take part in their spring campaign. I couldn't quite believe it! But pack my bags I did and off I went for the most amazing trip of my life - to Cape Town no less. This shot was of my meet up at Newquay airport with Laura aka The St Ives Mermaid which was equally exciting for both of us. If you missed that post you can see it here

Paulina and I were the last men standing from the original five faces of the I AM campaign way back in the summer. We congratulated each other on our luck when we met up for the Wardrobe Fitting. 10 days later and we were flying off to South Africa. Another huge pinch me moment!

The whole Cape Town experience was something that I'll never forget and to be perfectly honest, I'm so pleased to be able to go back to view the posts from that trip as I may not have catalogued them so well if I hadn't been a blogger. I often wonder if being a blogger played a part in my being chosen for this collaboration with JD Williams. Would I have made the grade otherwise? At the outset on the casting day in London I spoke to Annie and she assured me that they were already looking for certain types. If we fitted the prerequisites then we'd be in, if not then it's thank you and goodbye. I'm so grateful to have been given the chance to see the life of a model from the inside, but I was always going to feel a fraud. Goodness me, I only have to look in the mirror to know I'm no beauty, but for some reason - maybe they were casting a 60 year old bird with a big nose and wrinkles? - whatever, I made the grade for those three campaigns and goodness I'm so blooming lucky to have had that!

Winter swimming plays a massive part in my mental well being, so I was pleased to get back in the groove when I returned from the sunny climes of South Africa. The S.A.D. that normally plagues my winters was much less prominent, probably thanks to the sunlight I was able to soak up in January. My birthday month is usually much more of a struggle.

Mother's day lunch at the Ruin Beach Cafe.

Living up to my blogging motto of "Let's bin the beige and have fun with colour".

It seems apt to finish off the year of blogging with this photo from the post "I make no apologies for being me". As ever, I have this driving need to explain myself and hope that if you don't know me you'll take a look at this post alone if none of the others. I'll leave you with this link to the Christmas advert from JD Williams. (Fingers crossed that it still works!) I so loved this one, and am delighted to have this as part of my 60th year and 4th year of blogging - blimey, what a year that was!

Anna x

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